New Horizons web site
The Mannerisms album, "a celebration
of the music of Geoff Mann", was recorded in his memory by personal
friends who had worked or recorded with him before his untimely death
in 1993 (and provided their services free of charge). It was issued,
in 1994, on the Dutch SI label which subsequently collapsed making
it an almost impossible to find recording.
Everybody who was, in any way,
connected with progressive rock through the eighties has their own
memories of Geoff Mann: I remember watching him play with Twelfth
Night on a windy Sunday afternoon at Reading Festival; two consecutive
nights at the Marquee when he and IQ took turns to headline - and
he screamed out a siren sound behind an IQ version of 'Jean Genie';
and Geoff speaking movingly and singing the most poignant lyrics of
any artist appearing at the Live Aid event in High Wycombe - Twelfth
Night and upcoming contemporaries La Host, amongst others, also being
on the bill that day.
The twenty four page booklet
that accompanies the CD contains a biography, discography and lots
of photos of Mann, as well as having a page dedicated to each of the
eleven tracks complete with lyric and musician details and photo.
The tracks originate from all
periods of Mann's career, the first is from The Bond album 'Prints
of Peace'. Eh! are augmented by Peter Nicholls' vocals on 'Sob Stories'
(5.30) which features some great splendid guitar work.
Pallas play a Geoff Mann Band
song from 'Loud Symbols', 'What In The World' (5.32). This rendition
has a very atmospheric feeling with the rich, full instrumentation
that was so typical of the band.
From the solo work 'Second
Chants' comes 'Apathetic and Here, I...' (7.27) from IQ. The beginning
of this combines a "world music" feel, with bongos and breathy
pipe work, with strong guitar work. As soon as the vocals begin the
sound softens, becoming sweetly pure - then the music slowly builds,
the guitar taking the lead towards the end.
Galahad play 'The Ceiling Speaks'
(6.09) from Twelfth Night's 'Live & Let Live'. This version sticks
very much to the original musically and features a great performance
from lead singer Stuart Nicholson ... nice photo lads!
Marc Catley & Paley's Watch
perform 'Certainly' (5.40), from 'Won by One' by The Bond. This is
very different from the previous tracks being a gentle acoustic piece
- and the only one on the album with a female singer too.
The next track, 'Down Here'
(9.22) is the third to feature Peter Nicholls' voice. Flap play this
song taken from 'Ministry of the Interior' from the Eh! Geoff Mann
Band. This is a very effective piece with some nice vocal harmonies
against the subtly discordant and gently rhythmic instrumentation
Eden Burning play another tune
from 'Won by One' - 'His Love' (3.49) which has a gentle Celtic feel
enhanced by the use of whistle and mandolin.
Pendragon's own very distinctive
sound is evident right from the start of 'Human Being' (6.55) - taken
from 'Fact & Fiction' (XII Night).
Jadis play a second song taken
from 'Loud Symbols' (Geoff Mann Band). Gary Chandler delivers, as
ever, a great performance on 'Never Mind' (5.59), a piece with great
Twelfth Night take on one of
my all time favourite Geoff Mann solo pieces 'Piccadilly Square' (6.30)
from 'I May Sing Grace'. The original is starkly produced with just
the guitar and Mann's strong voice to carry the song - this version
throws everything in, and the vocals seem to be trying to imitate
Queen. This my idea of the worst of prog from this period, being full
of pomposity and smugness.
Finally Clive Nolan & Alan
Reed (with Karl Groom on guitar) close the album with 'Love Song'
(7.50), also from 'Fact & Fiction'. This is a fabulous number;
beautiful, evocative and timeless ... what a great song to end on.
After the last musical track
we have an unlisted item; a brief snippet of Geoff (talking about
Coronation Street) which is obviously recorded live ...
This, as well as being
a tribute to an unforgettable performer, is a snapshot of the British
prog scene in the mid nineties and is, as such, essential listening
for any student of that era - as well as for all of us who were there.
Reviewed byMarisa Hill
here for the New Horizons web site